The Easterlings were a significant threat to Gondor; they were a more regimented force than the Orcs or even the Haradrim. It is likely that Sauron drew much of his inspiration for his Orc armies from these wicked men. Sauron suffered a harsh and heavy defeat from the Last Alliance, who vanquished his numerically superior Orcs with a ranked and ordered army. The Easterlings were all this and more, so Sauron greatly valued his alliance with the men of Rhûn.[source?]
Centuries later, after Dagor Bragollach, tribes of Men joined the Edain in Beleriand, long after their arrival. These Swarthy Men came from the east, probably Eriador and were also called "Easterlings". Two of their leaders were Bór and Ulfang.
In the East, as well as in the South of Middle-earth, wild and barbaric Men multiplied. In the Second Age Sauron escaped the judgment of the Valar and continued his former master's work, turning those Men to evil and dominating them. During the Dark Years Sauron dominated most of the Westlands, and when Sauron was driven back to Mordor, he continued his expansions eastwards gaining servants and worshippers.
After Sauron's defeat in the War of the Last Alliance, these "Wild Men" were released by his tyranny but they still had darkness in their hearts. Evil and restless, they battled against each other and some withdrew to the hated west. Thus they encountered the lands of Gondor and since then, tribes brought trouble periodically with several attacks and migrations. Even some Northmen joined forces with the Easterlings because of greed or because of feuds with their kinsmen.[source?]
Easterlings first enter the records of Gondor in T.A. 490 and Tarostar managed a first victory against them in T.A. 500. In T.A. 541 they invaded Ithilien but Turambar of Gondor destroyed the horde and conquered a new territory in Rhûn for Gondor.
In the following centuries the Easterlings cease, while Gondor was free to extent its borders to the south. That was until the days of Narmacil I when the Easterlings resumed their attacks. In T.A. 1248 an Easterling army marched in the lands between Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûn. Forces from Gondor - aided by Northmen of Rhovanion - defeated them and destroyed their camps and settlements east of the Inland Sea.
After this defeat the Easterlings disappeared from the Gondorian records for some period, during which Gondor was again occupied with the south and the Corsairs of Umbar.
Gondor was weakened by the Great Plague and the Wainriders defeated the Gondorian army in T.A. 1856, raided the lands of Rhovanion and enslaved its people. Some of these lands eventually were reclaimed by King Calimehtar.
In T.A. 1944 the Wainriders, allied with the Haradrim of Near Harad and the Variags of Khand, managed a brief victory against Gondor, despite the assistance by the Éothéod; eventually they were defeated in their camp during their celebrations.
After this defeat the might of the Wainriders was broken although still held Rhovanion, and they retreated east.
The Balchoth were a fierce race southeast of Mirkwood, under orders of Dol Guldur and no doubt related to the Wainriders. In T.A. 2510 they and Orcs overran the plains of Calenardhon and almost destroyed the army of Steward Cirion, but were defeated by the Éothéod.
War of the Ring
The weapons that the Easterlings used were primarily crude, jagged spears, making them especially effective against cavalry, as well as a shorter, odd, glaive-like version used for close combat.
Some like the Wainriders and the Balchoth had large chaiots, wagons and wains  which they used to run their foes down. Easterlings (such as those of the Pelennor Fields) were bearded and used axes.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Amroth and Nimrodel"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix B: The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl", "The Kings of the Mark"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"